Hal Horowitz

Hal has been a professional music journalist since 1994, writing predominately about country, blues, Americana, roots rock and singer/songwriter genres for a variety of publications.

Film Graphic - Tom Petty - Somewhere You Feel Free
reviews

STAFF PICKSTom Petty – Somewhere You Feel Free: The Making of Wildflowers

By Hal Horowitz, October 19, 2021

Similar to the best documentaries, you don’t need to be a Tom Petty fan to appreciate how this film captures the creation of Wildflowers, and illuminates his character, determination and perfectionism.

Holler Country Music
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ALBUM REVIEWRiley Downing - Start It Over

By Hal Horowitz, May 11, 2021

The debut solo album from The Deslondes member is bluesy and characteristically laid-back, coalescing different sounds into a soulful, lowdown whole. Once you’re on board with Downing's elusive, often entrancing vibe, you’ll wonder why it took a pandemic for him to hit center stage.

Album Cover - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Angel Dream 2021
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ALBUM REVIEWTom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Angel Dream

By Hal Horowitz, July 2, 2021

Even Petty fans hip to the initial soundtrack will want to add this refreshed take to their collections.

Album Cover - Chase Bryant - Upbringing
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ALBUM REVIEWChase Bryant - Upbringing

By Hal Horowitz, July 13, 2021

Kudos to Bryant for overcoming his psychological obstacles to craft his sturdy, if a little cliched, of Upbringing.

Holler Country Music
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STAFF PICKSLord Huron - Long Lost

By Hal Horowitz, May 19, 2021

Relish in this sumptuous look back into an Americana that may have never existed other than in the mind of Ben Schneider, an auteur who crafts this delightful, sometimes challenging conceptual piece without a hint of pretentiousness or affectation.

Album - John Hiatt with The Jerry Douglas Band - Leftover Feelings
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ALBUM REVIEWJohn Hiatt with The Jerry Douglas Band - Leftover Feelings

By Hal Horowitz, May 20, 2021

It’s a classy, frequently moving, always provocative collaboration and one of Hiatt’s finest efforts which, considering his extensive catalog, is saying plenty.

Charley Crockett - Music City USA
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STAFF PICKSCharley Crockett - Music City USA

By Hal Horowitz, September 14, 2021

It’s tricky to pick one singular track to return to after the 50-minute album is complete. It’s once again an all-killer-no-filler album, Crockett keeping up his extraordinary run of matching quantity with quality, all garnished with an endearing, “aw-shucks” vibe.

Album - Drive By Truckers - Southern Rock Opera
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COUNTRY CLASSICSDrive-By Truckers - Southern Rock Opera

By Hal Horowitz, September 25, 2021

There is never a moment throughout this saga when the playing, singing and vocals feel anything less than earthy, honest and pure. That’s quite an accomplishment for this expansive hour and a half listen, particularly one where lyrics are so crucial to its enjoyment.

Holler Country Music
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STAFF PICKSHiss Golden Messenger - Quietly Blowing It

By Hal Horowitz, June 21, 2021

This release feels like the beginning of a confident new phase for M.C. Taylor - and might herald that for the music world in general too.

Album - Travis Tritt - Set In Stone
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ALBUM REVIEWTravis Tritt - Set In Stone

By Hal Horowitz, May 5, 2021

The singer’s confident voice and diversity in material display how much we’ve missed his presence in country music. It’s delightful to hear that he hasn’t lost a step.

Rodney Crowell - Triage
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ALBUM REVIEWRodney Crowell - Triage

By Hal Horowitz, July 20, 2021

It takes a brave artist to admit “If I’d known what I know a long time ago /I might have made of my life something more”. When it comes to Rodney Crowell, many would disagree; the intimate and often hypnotic Triage shows that he still has lots more to give.

Israel Nash - Topaz
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STAFF PICKSIsrael Nash - Topaz

By Hal Horowitz, March 12, 2021

There aren’t many artists talented enough to pull off a concept this uniquely creative and idiosyncratic without a hint of pretension. But Israel Nash has honed this territory for a while. The result is an immaculately constructed, filmic album that’s both expansive yet personal.

Album Cover - Sierra Ferrell - Long Time Coming
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ALBUM REVIEWSierra Ferrell - Long Time Coming

By Hal Horowitz, August 17, 2021

It’s obvious that Sierra Ferrell is a refreshingly original talent on the roots music landscape; one who’s revealed just a sampling of her gifts on this confident and uncompromising initial studio set.

Rhiannon Giddens - They're Calling Me Home
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STAFF PICKSRhiannon Giddens - They're Calling Me Home

By Hal Horowitz, April 9, 2021

Rhiannon Giddens doesn’t need much time or supporting instrumentation to create fervently moving art. Even though the stripped-down qualities of They’re Calling Me Home are the result of the pandemic, they yield some of the most stirring music you’re likely to hear, this year or any other.

Artwork - The Marfa Tapes
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STAFF PICKSJack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall - The Marfa Tapes

By Hal Horowitz, May 4, 2021

The Marfa Tapes is the rawest – and some might say most real - recording you’ll get from this trio - and it's all the better for it. Its unembellished sound and scruffy methodology is a quality we don’t have enough of in today’s often excessively tweaked and overly polished fare.

Album - Sean Rowe - The Darkness Dressed in Colored Lights
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ALBUM REVIEWSean Rowe - The Darkness Dressed in Colored Lights

By Hal Horowitz, October 4, 2021

Between his earnest rumble of a voice, lyrics so genuine they can’t be fiction and the no frills production, these musical sketches bring us closer to connecting with Sean Rowe from a place total vulnerability. 

Album - Adia Victoria - A Southern Gothic
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ALBUM REVIEWAdia Victoria - A Southern Gothic

By Hal Horowitz, September 16, 2021

Victoria has crafted a serious, often unrelenting and potent collection in A Southern Gothic - a powerful, searing work that pulses with the heartbeat of the American South.

Album Cover - The Flatlanders - Treasure of Love
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ALBUM REVIEWThe Flatlanders - Treasure of Love

By Hal Horowitz, July 7, 2021

While it may not be The Flatlanders at the top of their game, any fan of pure Texas country will find lots to relish on this collection. The tunes are terrific and it remains a treat to hear these troupers clearly having fun working at this late stage in their lives.

David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name (50th Anniversary Edition) Album Cover
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ALBUM REVIEWDavid Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name (50th Anniversary Edition)

By Hal Horowitz, October 11, 2021

Many believe that the best art emerges from times of psychological struggle and/or philosophical unrest. That was the case in late 1970, when David Crosby recorded his first solo album, If I Could Only Remember My Name.

Jade Bird - Different Kinds of Light
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ALBUM REVIEWJade Bird - Different Kinds of Light

By Hal Horowitz, August 9, 2021

Jade Bird is just 23 and has two impressive records to her name. From the direction of Different Kinds of Light, her future could be about to take flight.

Album - Natalie Hemby - Pins and Needles
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ALBUM REVIEWNatalie Hemby - Pins and Needles

By Hal Horowitz, October 8, 2021

Pins and Needles sounds professional and pleasant, however the smoothed over, unruffled 70s-styled production strips many of these selections of the impact their smartly written lyrics deserve.

Album - Taylor McCall - Black Powder Soul
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ALBUM REVIEWTaylor McCall - Black Powder Soul

By Hal Horowitz, September 22, 2021

Listeners who gravitate to the darker fringe of the genre will find plenty to chew on in this stunningly intense album that takes no prisoners, often detonating as if ignited by the explosive titular element.

Amythyst Kiah - Wary + Strange Album Cover
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STAFF PICKSAmythyst Kiah - Wary + Strange

By Hal Horowitz, June 15, 2021

For Staff Picks, we share with you our favourite new releases that you need to listen to. This week, it's Amythyst Kiah's Wary + Strange - a mesmerizing, frequently hypnotic and always challenging work.

Sara Watkins - Under The Pepper Tree
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ALBUM REVIEWSara Watkins - Under The Pepper Tree

By Hal Horowitz, March 26, 2021

Even if this leans to pop more than the country or bluegrass she is best known for, Watkins’ affection for this collection of children's songs is obvious. She successfully crafts an album adults can enjoy, just as much as their little ones; maybe even more so. 

Holler Country Music
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ALBUM REVIEWM. Ward - Think of Spring

By Hal Horowitz, December 18, 2020

Leave it to M. Ward to release one of the most downbeat and melancholy albums of his career - just in time for the Christmas season.

Album Cover - The Wandering Hearts - The Wandering Hearts
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ALBUM REVIEWThe Wandering Hearts - The Wandering Hearts

By Hal Horowitz, August 3, 2021

Anyone expecting a sophomore slump will be encouraged to learn that even with one member down, the group has solidified - and even amplified - the wonderful harmonies and memorable melodies that worked so effectively the first time out.

Rev Peyton - Dance Songs For Hard Times
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ALBUM REVIEWRev. Peyton's Big Damn Band - Dance Songs For Hard Times

By Hal Horowitz, April 9, 2021

Dance Songs for Hard Times is high-spirited, rambunctious roots music and a soundtrack to help dance away the blues - pandemic or otherwise.

Connie Smith - The Cry of the Heart Album Cover
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ALBUM REVIEWConnie Smith - The Cry of the Heart

By Hal Horowitz, August 20, 2021

Marty Stuart should be praised for his production of the project, but on the enthralling The Cry of the Heart, Connie Smith shows that she remains a vibrant and convincing presence. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait another decade for number 55.

The Pink Stones - Introducing... The Pink Stones
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ALBUM REVIEWThe Pink Stones - Introducing... The Pink Stones

By Hal Horowitz, April 8, 2021

There's a depth of honesty, sensitivity and integrity to Introducing... The Pink Stones that few debut releases have the capacity or courage to display. The Pink Stones aren’t trying to reinvent the cosmic American music wheel, just get behind it and drive for a while. Come along and enjoy the ride.

Album - Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real - A Few Stars Apart
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ALBUM REVIEWLukas Nelson & Promise of the Real - A Few Stars Apart

By Hal Horowitz, June 8, 2021

While the laid-back nature of it could use more of the energy exhibited on much of his other work, it demonstrates that slowing down to reevaluate your life, whether you planned to or not, is time well spent.

Album - Carolyn Wonderland - Tempting Fate
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ALBUM REVIEWCarolyn Wonderland - Tempting Fate

By Hal Horowitz, October 4, 2021

The years of Carolyn Wonderland being a well-kept secret are about to end.

Album - Shannon McNally - The Waylon Sessions
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STAFF PICKSShannon McNally - The Waylon Sessions

By Hal Horowitz, May 26, 2021

It comes as little surprise that McNally has finally got around to honoring Jennings with a disc dedicated to highlights and a few obscurities from his catalog.

Holler Country Music
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ALBUM REVIEWCrosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Déjà Vu (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

By Hal Horowitz, May 14, 2021

This is classy and complete. It’s likely the last word on how the disparate musical and personal threads of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were woven, creating the uneven yet tremendously successful and often musically spellbinding tapestry of Déjà Vu.

Holler Country Music
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ALBUM REVIEWWillie Nelson - That's Life

By Hal Horowitz, February 26, 2021

There aren’t many surprises on That's Life, but that’s unimportant. Nelson’s in terrific voice, he clearly loves the material and delivers each of the eleven Frank Sinatra cover tracks with beautifully nuanced authenticity.

Album - Asleep at the Wheel - Half a Hundred Years
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ALBUM REVIEWAsleep at the Wheel - Half a Hundred Years

By Hal Horowitz, September 28, 2021

The 19-track, hour playing time zips along with so much enthusiasm that it feels half as long. Even though it’s a bit of a mish-mash of re-recorded Asleep material with new songs, Half a Hundred Years is a constantly delightful recording that never takes itself too seriously.

Album - The Band - Stage Fright
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ALBUM REVIEWThe Band - Stage Fright (50th Anniversary Edition)

By Hal Horowitz, February 12, 2021

How great were The Band? Great enough to craft ten remarkable songs that remain moving and often exhilarating, even under trying and some might say demanding circumstances.

Album - Morgan Wade - Reckless
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ALBUM REVIEWMorgan Wade - Reckless

By Hal Horowitz, March 19, 2021

Reckless is an impressive initial showcase for a relatively new artist laying out her voice, personality and affecting lyrics for the world to hear. It’s still early in 2021, but this is likely to be one of the year’s top country debuts.

Holler Country Music
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ALBUM REVIEWParker Millsap - Be Here Instead

By Hal Horowitz, April 9, 2021

Every talented musician needs to grow and mature. That’s what Parker Millsap effectively does on Be Here Instead, his shot to attract a larger audience while preserving the organic qualities that have served him well to this point.

Holler Country Music
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ALBUM REVIEWBlackberry Smoke - You Hear Georgia

By Hal Horowitz, May 25, 2021

With You Hear Georgia, Blackberry Smoke’s tried and true approach feels as potent now as it did when they started down their long career path 20 years ago.

Johnny Cash - Bear's Sonic Journals: Johnny Cash at the Carousel Ballroom, April 24 1968 - Album Cover
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ALBUM REVIEWBear’s Sonic Journals: Johnny Cash – At the Carousel Ballroom, April 24, 1968

By Hal Horowitz, October 26, 2021

This record captures Cash in a transitory stretch - not yet lauded as the spokesperson for the downtrodden and a progenitor of the “outlaw” sound, but rather a talented country musician plying his trade on the road.

Album Cover - Jackson Browne - Downhill From Everywhere
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ALBUM REVIEWJackson Browne - Downhill From Everywhere

By Hal Horowitz, July 22, 2021

This late-in-life entry to a stunning near five-decade catalog is as warm, lyrically articulate and musically compelling as any Jackson Browne has recorded.

Ray Charles
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GUIDEA Guide To: Ray Charles' Country Songs

By Hal Horowitz, September 8, 2021

To celebrate his induction to the Country Music Hall of Fame and forthcoming True Genius collection, we looked back at 10 examples of Ray Charles’ finest and most influential country performances - just a small sampling of his work in the genre.

Album - Yola - Stand for Myself
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STAFF PICKSYola - Stand for Myself

By Hal Horowitz, July 26, 2021

Relish in one of contemporary music’s most dynamic voices at the peak of her songwriting powers and soul saturated vocal intensity.

Album: Dale Watson - Presents: The Memphians
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ALBUM REVIEWDale Watson - Presents: The Memphians

By Hal Horowitz, February 26, 2021

Watson's spirited, affectionate work on Presents: The Memphians may only be a side trip in an extensive career, but it further confirms his love of a genre he will never abandon.

Album - Jason Isbell - Georgia Blue
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STAFF PICKSJason Isbell - Georgia Blue

By Hal Horowitz, October 12, 2021

Joined by a handful of like-minded musicians, 'Georgia Blue' sees Isbell cover a selection of songs by Georgia-hailing artists. It's a delightfully loose, expertly played and above all sincere 13-track set that checks every box for a project of this kind.

Album Cover - Leah Blevins - First Time Feeling
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STAFF PICKSLeah Blevins - First Time Feeling

By Hal Horowitz, August 10, 2021

It won’t take long to realize that with First Time Feeling, singer/songwriter Leah Blevins has released one of the most impressive debuts in recent memory.

Dwight Yoakam - Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. Album Cover
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COUNTRY CLASSICSDwight Yoakam - Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.

By Hal Horowitz, August 19, 2021

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of this debut. Not only did it introduce Yoakam as a fledgling yet seasoned talent with a voice that comes along once in a generation, but it presented pure country, amplified and energized, to a new, younger audience.

Pokey LaFarge - In The Blossom of Their Shade Album Cover
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ALBUM REVIEWPokey LaFarge - In the Blossom of Their Shade

By Hal Horowitz, October 12, 2021

In the Blossom of Their Shade will make you forget about the frustrations of the last year and a half - at least for 40 minutes - and is a wonderful way to get acquainted with LaFarge’s unique, diverse and delightfully idiosyncratic musical personality.

Holler Country Music
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ALBUM REVIEWBarry Gibb - Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers Songbook Vol. 1

By Hal Horowitz, January 8, 2021

The theory is enticing, but Greenfields is frustratingly a missed opportunity to breathe fresh life into Gibb’s music.

Home In This World: Woody Guthrie's Dust Bowl Ballads Album Cover
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ALBUM REVIEWHome in This World: Woody Guthrie’s Dust Bowl Ballads

By Hal Horowitz, September 8, 2021

These interpretations replicate the timeless qualities all great work exudes. The artists breathe new life and fresh inspiration into material whose words and melodies haven’t lost an ounce of their powerful intensity, regardless of the style they are replicated in.

Album - The Wallflowers - Exit Wounds
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ALBUM REVIEWThe Wallflowers - Exit Wounds

By Hal Horowitz, July 6, 2021

Since releasing two stripped-down solo efforts in 2008 and 2010, then returning to his band for 2012’s Glad All Over, it’s been radio silence in Jakob Dylan’s career. That puts this new Wallflowers set, arriving nearly a decade later, squarely into comeback territory.

Artwork - Jimbo Mathus & Andrew Bird - These 13
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STAFF PICKSJimbo Mathus & Andrew Bird - These 13

By Hal Horowitz, March 5, 2021

The duo plainly love this music, but instead of just covering musty classics, have crafted new songs every bit as genuine.

Album - Joy Oladokun - in defense of my own happiness
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ALBUM REVIEWJoy Oladokun - in defense of my own happiness

By Hal Horowitz, June 2, 2021

It’s an impressive introduction - a balancing act that keeps one foot in deep, dark impressions while the other stands within enough commerciality to attract newcomers to Oladokun's sound.

Holler Country Music
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ALBUM REVIEWThe Cadillac Three - COUNTRY FUZZ

By Hal Horowitz, December 18, 2020

On the genre bending COUNTRY FUZZ, The Cadillac Three dispense with anyone’s idea of what they should sound like and instead march to the beat of their own drum.

Album - James McMurty - The Horses and the Hounds
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STAFF PICKSJames McMurtry - The Horses and the Hounds

By Hal Horowitz, August 16, 2021

James McMurtry has always been one of Americana’s finest artists, but with The Horses and the Hounds, he even bests his previous work for an album undoubtedly on the shortlist as one of 2021’s finest. 

Album - Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers - Ramble in Music City
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STAFF PICKSEmmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers - Ramble in Music City: The Lost Concert

By Hal Horowitz, September 1, 2021

A stunning live recording that helps solidify the importance of the three-year stint of the Nash Ramblers, adding another notch to Harris’ impressive belt that every Emmylou enthusiast - and even those that aren’t - will treasure.

Album Cover: The Allman Brothers Band - At Fillmore East
reviews

COUNTRY CLASSICSThe Allman Brothers Band - At Fillmore East

By Hal Horowitz, June 30, 2021

We reflect on this iconic album for its 50th anniversary, taking a look back at the story of the band's live recording at New York City's iconic Fillmore East.